Alex Giles | Eye-Catching, Technical Paintings

Kinship: Photography and Connection at SFMOMA features six contemporary photographers whose work results from deep relationships including friendship, ties to place, to community and beyond. The exhibition brings together over 80 captivating works by photographers who share a special affinity with their subjects: Farah Al Qasimi, Mercedes Dorame, Jarod Lew, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Alessandra Sanguinetti and Deanna Templeton. 

Whether the connections explored in their photographs are familial, platonic, romantic, cultural or geographic, relationships are fundamental to each artist’s practice. Four of the six photographers — Dorame, Sanguinetti, Sepuya and Templeton — live in California.

Deanna Templeton (b. 1969, Huntington Beach), a lifelong resident of Huntington Beach, California, is known for black-and-white street photographs documenting life in suburban Southern California. Templeton’s series What She Said pairs diary entries from her teenage years with photographs of young women whose grit and resilience is reminiscent of herself at that age. Teenage girls are frequently disparaged in American culture, but Templeton connects to her young subjects, and her photography treats them with respect and reverence.

Alessandra Sanguinetti (b. 1968, New York) has photographed two cousins in rural Argentina for over 20 years, documenting their complex relationship to each other and to the place where they live. In Kinship, Sanguinetti will present a selection of work from over the long course of this moving and beautiful project, which she calls The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and The Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams. Born in New York to an American mother and an Argentine father, Sanguinetti lived in Argentina from the age of two until relocating to the Bay Area in 2002.

Paul Mpagi Sepuya (b. 1982, San Bernadino) photographs friends and lovers — as well as himself — exploring desire and the construction of queer spaces. Turning traditional modes of photographic portraiture on its head, Sepuya only photographs people he knows, and the way the pictures come about is playful and casual. His work in the studio emerges from his interest in the history of art making spaces where the creative, social and sexual intermingle, creating unexpected results.

The lyrical pictures of Mercedes Dorame (b. 1980, Los Angeles) forge a dialogue with her Indigenous ancestors and the places they lived. Dorame is of Gabrielino-Tongva heritage, Indigenous people who were the first to inhabit the area that is now Los Angeles, Malibu and San Bernadino. For her new body of work titled Everywhere is West, Dorame photographs tidal spaces her ancestors traversed in the Channel Islands, invoking the invisible past.

Jarod Lew (b. 1987, Detroit) explores constructions of Asian American identity in a suburban context. His series Please Take Off Your Shoes includes portraits of young first-generation Asian Americans as they navigate the expectations of their immigrant parents and their own American experience. Lew was inspired by the revelation that his mother had been the fiancée of Vincent Chin when he was murdered by two autoworkers on the night of his bachelor party in 1982. Chin’s death and the lenient punishment given to his murderers galvanized Asian American activism around civil rights and anti-hate crime legislation.

Farah Al Qasimi (b. 1991, Abu Dhabi) lives in New York City and photographs regularly in the United Arab Emirates, where she grew up. In her work, she draws from her experience growing up in a fast-growing city where the natural balance has grown more precarious over time. Her bold, distinctive photographs feature human and animal subjects, often gesturing towards the kinship and power dynamics between them. Al Qasimi frequently installs framed works on vinyl photographic wallpaper, which creates layered patterns in kaleidoscopic color.

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